LONDON, July 20 Lloyd's of London
insurer Beazley swung to a first-half profit as claims
fell back to more normal levels following a sharp
catastrophe-induced increase a year ago.
Beazley said on Friday it made a pretax profit of $113
million in the six months to June, compared with a loss of $24.2
million in the 2011 period and forecasts for $100-$110 million.
The improvement partly reflected a 20 percent drop in net
claims relative to the first half of 2011, when Beazley paid out
$477 million to customers as earthquakes in Japan and New
Zealand inflicted big losses on insurers worldwide.
Beazley also benefited from an average 3 percent rise in
prices across its business, reflecting a steady turnaround in
global insurance rates after four years of declines.
Insurance prices typically rise in the wake of major payouts
as financially weaker players retrench, leaving those still in
the market to charge more.
Beazley chief executive Andrew Horton said he expected
prices to keep rising at the same pace in the second half.
"If there is an economic downturn it may put more pressure
on those rate increases. We have an uncertain economic outlook
in the next six months to one year," he told Reuters.
Horton also said Beazley, which last year expressed interest
in buying rival Hardy Underwriting before it was snapped up by
U.S. insurer CNA Financial, was still on the lookout for
acquisitions, although no deals were imminent.
"There is nothing in mind at this point in time," he said.
Beazley shares were down 0.6 percent, underperforming a flat
FTSE 250 share index. The stock is up 12 percent this
year, lagging a 15 percent increase in the FTSE non-life
Beazley will pay an interim dividend of 2.7 pence, up 8